Crew, passengers subdue man trying to break into cockpit of SFO-bound flight
Federal terrorism investigators are questioning a 28 year-old man who was tackled by crew members and passengers on a flight from Chicago to San Francisco after he began banging on the cockpit door in an attempt to get into the flight deck of the plane Sunday night.
A flight attendant tackled the man and two passengers helped restrain the subject, identified as Rageh Al-Murisi, when he rushed past the first class cabin on American Airlines flight 1561 and began pounding on the door.
Passengers on the flight posted on the website FlyerTalk.com that Al-Murisi yelled “Allah Akbar” and moved into the forward cabin.
The flight was 30 minutes from landing at San Francisco International Airport when Al-Murisi began his attempt to access the flight deck of the Boeing 737, San Francisco Police Department Airport Bureau Sgt. Michael Rodriguez told reporters.
The flight attendant handcuffed Al-Murisi and seated him while the plane continued its descent into San Francisco where law enforcement officers met the plane at the gate to arrest Almurisi at 9:02 p.m.
The passenger was taken to a San Mateo County hospital for treatment of lacerations he received during the flight and has been booked into San Mateo County Jail facing a federal charge relating to interfering with a flight crew, Rodriguez said.
Al-Murisi will appear in US District Court Tuesday to face the federal charge.
Authorities said Al-Murisi holds a passport from Yemen, but it was not clear whether he was a native of the country. Investigators did not immediately release a motive for why Al-Murisi began banging on the cockpit door, or if there was an alleged link to terrorism in the incident. Police said Al-Murisi also holds a California identification card that lists a Vallejo address.
The American Airlines flight left Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport at 5:06 p.m. Pacific Time with 162 passengers and crew on board.
Al-Murisi would not have likely gained access to the flight deck where cockpit doors on all airplanes have been reinforced following the hijackings of four U.S. planes on September 11, 2001. and access to the cockpit compartment has been eliminated to all passengers.
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